Category Archives: Student placements

Country specific information: learn how to behave

Mariya Totlyakova

My name is Mariya Totlyakova and I’m a Senior Expert at the Department of Academic Activities and I’m also part of the Erasmus programme team. I have been working at University of National and World Economy for 6 years and every time when students come back from their year abroad I’m amazed how they have changed – in a positive way. They are more responsible, organized and confident in their skills, they are looking for new challenges and experiences.

At the beginning of each study and work exchange everything is new for them, they don’t know where they are going or what to expect. There is a big proportion of students who decide not to go on Erasmus exchange because of lack of the country specific information.

I can now say that the new website “” is very useful to close this information gap.

Students can find specific information about the countries they are going to, they can learn how to behave there and to find answers to all their questions. Most of the students fall in love with the host countries and they want to prolong their stay by doing a placement there. I think that the website can give them advice on how to be successful and how to stand out from the competition.

Studying or working abroad is a big challenge, it is always interesting to get to know other cultures and ways of life. It is useful to observe different ways of teaching and working. I always advise students to spend one or two semesters abroad – it is a fortune, so read the website and pick a destination!

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by Mariya Totlyakova, Senior Expert at the Department of Academic Activities and Erasmus programme team


Read, watch and enjoy the preparation of your new life

I am a student who is interested in the international affairs and the opportunities which the world can offer. Currently studying for a master’s degree at the International Business at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria. Two years ago, during my Bachelor’s Degree, I decided to participate in an exchange program – called Erasmus – at the University of Applied Science in Prague, Czech Republic.

I was looking for a life changing experience and an opportunity to develop and educate myself. I have always been curious about studying abroad. While I was choosing where to do my Erasmus study, I made my own research about the countries, universities, and the cost of living and so on. It took me a long time.

Two years ago I would have recommended you to start the preparation as early as possible but today I wouldn’t.

There is a new website which can help you to get ready for the new experience abroad without any efforts. The website provides information in 9 different languages about 31 countries across Europe. This website could give an opportunity to increase your awareness about the study placements abroad and business opportunities.

If this site existed two years ago, I would not have lost so much time to make my own research because the information here is very well systematized, useful and easy to find. The information covers the main work & life related topics such as cultural taboos, education level, business communication, business etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance, social activities, etc.

The Passport to Trade 2.0 project will give you valuable insights about your upcoming life and will help you in your future endeavours. Read, watch and enjoy the preparation of your new life with the I highly recommend it to you!

The six things you must know about Germany

Maria SlavovaI am a recent graduate from Warwick Business School and during my third year of studies, I spent an exchange year in Munich, Germany. This guide would have definitely helped me settle in quicker. Especially, for students from lower income families, the cost of living is a matter of utmost importance. That is why the information about average example prices is very useful.

1. Germans prefer to use cash and not credit cards

Germans are still very fond of cash although cash cards are gradually becoming more popular. However, they do not use credit cards very often as is the case in many other Western countries. I found the report on Germany comprehensive and useful.

As is mentioned in the report, Germany is renowned for its education system which has long standing traditions and a complicated structure. It is important for foreign students to get acquainted with it before coming to the country and the websites given provide a good description.

2. Importance of work experience

The report accurately highlights the importance of work experience, which is interwoven in the education system. Students do their first placement while still in school and receive feedback on their performance. There are numerous opportunities for work placements during university studies. Practical experience is highly important in Germany and foreign students quite often overlook this fact when applying for jobs in the country.

The application process could last quite a long time, so like the report suggests it is advisable to apply several months in advance. Ensuring that all documents are in place and finding accommodation is also very important. The list with websites for placements is very convenient.

3. Healthcare system in Germany

The healthcare system in Germany is very well organized and foreign students are required to have health insurance. The report provides a website with information about visas and work permits which is also very important when looking for a work placement in Germany.

4. Xing is currently more popular than LinkedIn in Germany

Like in the other European countries, social networks in Germany are becoming more and more important for finding work and establishing contacts. The professional network Xing is currently more popular than LinkedIn and many people seek employment through it.

5. Importance of punctuality and planning

One cannot overstress the importance of punctuality and planning in the German business culture. The section on Business communication in Germany presents a good overview of the do’s and don’ts in a German work setting. Following business etiquette is essential.

6. German taboo subjects

Germans are very sensitive when it comes to discussing topics like World War II so one needs to be very cautious not to offend them. The division of private and work life is very clear and is important that foreigners are aware of this so not to get a wrong impression. It makes a good impression if one knows typical gestures like rapping the knuckles against the table top at the end of a presentation or a lecture.

Overall I found the report on Germany instructive and would recommend it to students looking for placements in Germany.

By Mariya Slavova

Greek business guide can open doors in Greece

Dimitra-KoukouseliI want to congratulate the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team for giving me the chance to have such valuable information for my stay in Portugal. It couldn’t have come at a better time because I will be going there as an Erasmus student next semester at the Polytechnic Institute of Santarém. As a country in the Southern region, I found that the Portuguese have many similarities with the Greeks and I was very happy about that. When reading the sections on punctuality, business communication, business meals, I thought I was reading the Greek guide. I am really looking forward to spending time in Portugal and the Passport to Trade website will be my guide.

As a student studying business administration at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, I think the website is an essential tool for everyone who would like to do business in these countries. I liked the videos as well because they give a quick snapshot of the country.

I was happy to see that social media is being used in companies and is expanding in many countries as part of their communication strategy. The website gives small and medium sized companies the opportunity to expand their business relationships with other European countries.

There are some very helpful cultural hints in the Greek business guide that can surely open doors for doing business in Greece. Greek people are friendly and welcome foreigners but, it would be great to also know what to avoid and how you can make your communication easier. I found it not only informing but fun to read as well.

by Dimitra Koukouseli

Student, University of Macedonia Thessaloniki. Department of Business Administration

Personal relationships have priority in Portugal

Antonio-BrunoI am Antonio Bruno and I am a student of Tourism Sciences at University of Calabria in Rende (CS) – Italy.

I have just come back home from Portugal where I have had a work placement.

Before leaving on my work placement, I have only had limited knowledge and expectations about the country and people I would meet.

Reading the guide of Portugal developed by the Passport to Trade project, I found interesting and useful information about the country in general, but, in particular, about the cultural context and the business attitudes and etiquette.

I worked as a receptionist in an hotel in Lisbon and I had the opportunity to meet many people from different places.

The knowledge of business culture and business communication, which I gained from P2T2.0, has helped me to develop good relationships both with my colleagues and clients.

Personal relationships have priority in Portugal

As regards to the work experience I had, I can confirm that Portuguese are friendly and warm but they are also formal, precise and clear.

Trust is very important, so Portuguese people like to get to know you well and establish a personal relation, this allows long-term work collaborations.

Thanks to the advice received on Passport to Trade 2.0 website on student placement resources in Portugal, I have also had fewer difficulties in finding accommodation and in managing other practical issues. My work placement experience has been more relaxed and successful.